Staffordshire University’s quarterly sustainability update – July to September 2023

Sustainability is a key priority for Staffordshire University. The organisation is targeting Net Zero carbon emissions from its buildings by 2030

Paul Barrett of Staffordshire University pictured cycling along Stoke-on-Trent's canal ways, flanked by pottery chimneys and a green barge.

Image: Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel)

In the third quarter of 2023, the University has made huge progress in its sustainability agenda, achieving the following milestones across its campuses.

University research featured in The Sentinel

In July, Dr Paul Barratt was featured in The Sentinel discussing the concept of the 15-minute city and the benefit to Stoke-on-Trent.

He looks at how proximal living initiatives could enhance the liveability, economy and environment of Stoke-on-Trent. The polycentric layout of the six towns represents an opportunity to build a series of 15-minute cities with many of the everyday needs of the city’s inhabitants met within a 15-minute walk or bike ride of their homes.

Sustainable swaps for summer awards ceremonies

For its summer graduation ceremonies, Staffordshire University ensured a more sustainable offering for its 2,209 graduating students and almost 9,093 guests, that celebrated over five days in July.

This included offering all graduating students and guests reusable water bottles, to be used throughout the day and after the event, and providing refill stations at the Kings Hall and The Catalyst Building, to reduce the need for single-use plastic cups during the day.

The Graduation team also reduced the number of ceremony brochures being printed, moving to a digital brochure downloaded by graduates and guests. A ceremony brochure was still produced for all graduates as a memento of their day, and to celebrate their achievements, however the number of pages was reduced, and these were not offered to guests.

The reduction in the number of brochures printed, reduced the number of boxes delivered to the University and the environmental impact through transportation. To further mitigate the carbon emissions related to the brochure printing, the printing production company used were chosen due to their commitment to sustainability and planting trees to compensate for the carbon produced in the creation of the brochure.

Operationally, there was an increased use of digital technology within the Graduation team, removing the need for printing and reliance on paper. For future awards ceremonies, there are active discussions on the removal of physical tickets for graduates and guests, moving to a digital only solution.

The Catering team has also reduced single-use plastic during the celebration events, moving away from bottled fizz to a more sustainable draft system. Typically, up to 100 bottles of fizz were previously used during each event, which although recycled through the dedicated waste management streams, still impacted the environment.

Existing University furniture repurposed in new architecture studio

Staffordshire University has kitted out its new architecture studio in the Cadman building with repurposed furniture from its Ashley 2 building (Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent), and Staffordshire University London.

The University’s Ashley 2 building is currently undergoing work to create new teaching spaces and simulation learning facilities, leaving certain furniture surplus to requirement to make space for 12 new simulation spaces.

This furniture, along with other pieces from the University’s London campus, has been moved to the new architecture studio, rather than ending up in landfill.

Poverty and climate change in the UK

At the Action on Poverty Conference in the summer, hosted at Staffordshire University, academics Dr Paul Barratt and Dr Janet Wright organised a session on poverty and climate change in the UK.

This explored the impacts, challenges and opportunities that climate change is bringing in relation to low-income groups. Discussions suggested that pro-poor policies should be used to both mitigate against climate change and help lift people out of poverty.

Government funding helps SMEs Go Digital and towards Net Zero

Businesses in Cannock Chase District are being supported to Go Digital and transition to Net Zero in new government funded projects.

Delivered by Staffordshire University, the fully funded Go Digital Accelerator project will support 16 SMEs who wish to adopt digital technologies or develop new digital products and services.

Meanwhile the Net Zero Pathfinder will provide 20 SMEs with the opportunity to work on a Net Zero plan to assist them in achieving the Net Zero targets set by the UK government.

ResLife and WildStaffs planting session

On World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10 October), the ResLife team and WildStaffs group, along with staff and students, met to revive the ResLife garden, located behind Royal Doulton on its Leek Road campus, Stoke-on-Trent.

The group planted seasonal produce like onions, peas, cauliflower and leeks, ready to harvest in the spring.

The WildStaffs Project is made up of students, academics, professional services staff, and the Students’ Union, and aims to increase biodiversity across campus through activities such as general planting, including wildflowers and trees. This planting will support wildlife from bugs through to small mammals and birds.

The group meets every Wednesday at 1.30pm. For more information, email Andy Warham, Grounds Maintenance Team Leader,


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